Porsche is only days away from launching the new Macan EV, and its design process represents a pivotal moment for Porsche.
Following the Taycan, the 2024 Porsche Macan EV will be the company's second all-electric model, but it isn't supposed to look too different from its ICE siblings.
With guidance from Michael Mauer, Porsche's chief designer, the Macan EV will feature changes for aerodynamics and driver engagement above all else.
Porsche had a pretty good 2023. Like other manufacturers, sales numbers were up everywhere but in China, as the car market stabilized, and some models did better than others. 911 sales were up 24% year-over-year, while models like the Cayenne and Macan stagnated.
Even so, Porsche's twin SUVs remain its bread and butter, at least for the bottom line. Collectively accounting for over 174,000 globally delivered units in 2023, the Cayenne and Macan certainly aren't cheap, but lower starting prices and more prevalent allocation slots make them more accessible.
Beyond padding Porsche's pockets, such popularity makes the Macan a perfect platform for the next phase of EV adoption out of Stuttgart. It's no secret that an all-electric Macan is on the way for 2024, sharing the Premium Platform Electric with Audi and featuring a nickel manganese cobalt 100-kWh battery.
That's good for a 270-kW charging speed, 311 miles of range, and 603 hp plus 737 lb-ft of torque, according to preliminary figures from Porsche. Characteristically sporty, Porsche is also boasting a 48:52 front-rear weight distribution for the Macan EV, though it has yet to announce a curb weight. Count on it being heavier than the current 4200-pound average.
Altering the powertrain from a traditional internal-combustion engine to a battery and a series of electric motors goes beyond the mechanics. Prototype versions of the Macan EV feature a duck-bill trunk, rounded edges, and squatty stance, with Porsche chief designer Michael Mauer confirming the Macan EV will be unique in its own right.
"The electric powertrain both opens up new possibilities and poses new challenges: The absence of the massive engine block allows us to have a more pronounced interpretation of the typical topography of the front bonnet," Mauer said. "At the same time, the battery is still rather large, so takes up a lot of space and could disturb the vehicle’s defining width-to-height ratio."
With such a responsibility on the design team's shoulders, he said the main goal of the Macan EV is to maintain Porsche's inherent style while also setting it apart from its ICE siblings. "So this raises the questions: How 'new' does the 'new one' have to be? What's too much, what's just right?" said Mauer.
To achieve this balance, Mauer said his team focused on three guiding principles: Focus, Tension, and Purpose. In terms of the Macan EV, Porsche's version of focused design relates to its interior, which will have a sports car-like focus on the driver's side.
With a curved, driver-oriented infotainment display, direct access to essential controls will be as close as possible, augmented by a specific minimalist mode within the screen ecosystem. When turned on, the driver can arrange the screen to only display the elements they find crucial for driving, limiting ever-prevalent distractions.
Ensuring that Porsche's design language is internationally accepted is another key consideration as the Macan EV launches. Instead of conforming to the trend of the hour, Mauer said Porsche is often weary to be the first on the scene, so to speak. Instead, incorporating elements that will please a variety of markets is crucial.
"The idea is to scrutinize trends and influences carefully and to examine critically whether they fit with the brand. This is the only way for us to preserve our unique identity over the long term," Mauer said. "In Asia, digital elements in the car play a very important role. The design is more playful overall compared with a European perspective."
This reluctance to follow what's hot can lead Porsche down the road of irrelevancy, if only momentarily. It's unlikely that a Porsche powertrain will underperform, but its designs run the risk of appearing stale, Mauer admitted. With a 200-person design staff, Porsche said it is trying to develop young up-and-comers alongside its veteran artists.
Porsche has largely rejected the idea of differentiating its electric models from gasoline-powered versions. While the all-electric Taycan represents its own slice of Zuffenhausen shooting brake history, incoming electrified versions will be more unique in driving experience than in outright looks. As it should be, Mauer said.
The official reveal of the 2024 Porsche Macan EV is set for this Thursday, January 25, in Singapore. Pricing and precise production timeline have yet to be revealed, though it's likely the Macan EV will start at around $80,000.
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